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"Serendipitously," in 2009, Oregon State University chemist Mas Subramanian created the gorgeous blue pigment you see above, the university reports. Now, the "near-perfect" pigment has been perfected and will be sold as commercial coatings and plastics, and later this year, as paint for household use.
According to Artnet News (where there are more pictures of the new color), Subramanian and his team were conducting experiments (though it's unclear what kind), when one of them mixed black manganese oxide with "other chemicals," heated it to 2,000 degrees Farenheit, and noticed the sample turned bright, bright blue.
They continued to test it and noticed the sample's resulting crystal structure kept the new color from fading at all, not even when it was exposed to different elements. The color's name became (and remains) YInMn blue, a combination of the names of the elements that make it up - Yttrium, Indium, and Manganese.
What makes YInMn different than other pigments that have been sold is that it's inherently free of toxic ingredients, which has been a problem with commercially sold paints before (you know, like, lead). "The basic crystal structure we're using for these pigments was known before, but no one had ever considered using it for any commercial purpose, including pigments," Subramanian said in an OSU statement: "Ever since the early Egyptians developed some of the first blue pigments, the pigment industry has been struggling to address problems with safety, toxicity and durability."
In addition to all the above, Subramanian believes the product could revolutionize roofing too. YInMn's infrared reflectivity, which according to OSU is about 40 percent, could be used on roofs to keep buildings cooler. Subramanian continues to explore YInMn's makeup to see what other new properties he can find, in addition to "attempting to discover new pigments by creating intentional laboratory 'accidents.'"
I'm just going to go ahead and throw this out there, but professor, if you happen to create an unusually flexible green substance that feels vaguely nostalgic but you can't quite figure out why, just release it to the world and don't question it, OK? There's a whole bunch of '90s kids out there who are praying for your next accident to be just that.
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